"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the level of thinking we were at when we created them."
Tonight I attended a meeting at my Pastor's house, to start a series on spiritual warfare. While the discussion mainly revolved around what the Bible had to say about demons, the demonic influences in the world today, etc., there was also some talk about the competition for our attention between two major forces: God's will for our lives and the temptations and deceptions of the evil one. This eventually led to talk of how what we take in through our media has a great effect on us, and has the potential to pull us away from God.
As tobyMac observes:
"It is a daily struggle to walk with God in our modern society. There are so many things competing for the attention of our hearts and minds."
He's absolutely right. I know this topic is often exhausted in Christian circles, but it's one that needs to be addressed.
This evening, my Pastor shocked most of us in attendance when he told us that, excluding "The Passion of the Christ," he has not seen a movie in a movie theater for thirty years. He also chooses to watch very little television and doesn't own an iPod or portable CD player ("Oh, the horror!!!" I thought ;-)-. He states that he's realized that his life's purpose is to hear from and follow God. Accordingly, he's put the things of the world on the backburner. He doesn't advocate these seemingly drastic steps for everyone; it's just a personal choice of his in his quest to better follow God.
While he didn't necessarily recommend this practice for us, he got me thinking.
Putting all the subliminal, anti-Christian messages in many of today's films and music aside, think simply of the amount of time that is devoted to these activities in the average American household. Consider this:
-The average teen hears 10,500 hours of music between grades 7 and 12. That's more than fourteen months nonstop.
-Boom, A Guy's Guide To Growing Up
I've also heard that the television is on for approximately seven hours a day in the average American household. Point is, we live in a media-driven culture.
Now to the quotes at the top of the page. These two intellectual heavyweights made observations which I think all of us could learn from today: Our habits have a great affect on us, and if we wish to conquer our problems, we need to change the way we see them.
Specifically relating to the Aristotle quote, I think that if we all really think about it than we are forced to admit that our habits eventually produce noticeable results. For instance, a bodybuilder who adheres to a regimen of strength training will build muscle mass, and a person who overeats and doesn't exercise will gain weight. These are simple, demonstrable examples of how habits affect us.
Even though we hate to admit it, the same is true for our thought life. What you believe determines how you behave; this has been the case all through history. Hitler was convinced that the Germans were the superior race that deserved to rule the world; this belief in Aryan supremacy caused him to facilitate the Holocaust.
President Bush believed that Saddam Hussein was a threat to us; this conviction compelled him to send troops into Iraq to search for him.
I've realized that I, as an American whose been raised and immersed in an ectremely affluent and privileged society, I've bought into the lie that my reason to live is for my own fulfillment and entertainment.
Finally realizing this, I decided that I would eliminate the influence of my iPod, music, and television for a week and see how it impacts me. For instance, if I break into a cold sweat and start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, this might be a clue that I listen to my iPod a little too much. Lol.
As I said before, it's not just the impact of negative media influences that concern me; but the amount of time in my daily life that is devoted solely to my entertainment, when I could be learning something or doing something for the kingdom of God. Seriously, I think this test will free me to focus more on God than the myriad of entertainment choices all around me, and that it'll cause a shift in my thinking, similar to what Einstein observed.
Though I wouldn't go as far as to say that everyone should do this, I'd encourage you my audience to give it a shot. See if you hear from God more clearly, or if you simply have a more productive week. God Bless.